Gov. Chet Culver stopped by The Gazette for an editorial board chat this afternoon. Here’s the Chet Notes version, like Cliffs Notes, only with less detail.
SPECIAL SESSION — Culver insisted, impatiently at times, that he’s heroically using his executive authority to shift $40 million from the state budget into housing and business assistance, making a special session unnecessary. He says his top priority is getting money into people’s hands fast, and he can do that without waiting for lawmakers to arrive and vote.
Three branches of government can be so cumbersome, really.
“What people need is assistance,” Culver said. “They know, as of Friday, when we announced this, that hope is on the way.”
So what about the local leaders who hoped for a special session? Culver said Lt. Gov. Patty Judge met with some of them on Sunday and he claims they’re now cool with his solo approach.
Culver also insisted that it would be a mistake for lawmakers to come back and appropriate state money now for infrastructure repairs – bridges, roads etc. – before we’ve squeezed every drop of money out of the feds. The feds might give us less, he contends.
In short, Culver said he can handle this disaster, for now, without the Legislature, just trust him. And stop questioning him. At one point he snapped “What is it you don’t understand?”
GAS TAX — Culver said it’s “too early to tell” on whether a gas tax hike, or any other tax hike, might be needed to help pay for recovery or for government functions sapped by disasters both natural and economic. These are not the sort of questions you answer before Election Day.
ECONOMY — Culver said, emphatically, he has no worries that ongoing economic tumult will impact Iowa. He didn’t explain how Iowa might untie itself from the nation’s sinking banking and investment sectors, but you have to admire his optimism. He said the next president needs to clean up the “crisis.”
HEATING HELP — Culver said some pieces of flood aid can be used by those impacted by flooding to pay heating costs this winter. There are worries that Congress won’t provide Iowa with enough money to meet an expected increase in applications for heating help.